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String theory and the Iraq war: a surprising parallel December 22, 2006

Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, news, physics, politics, science.

In his blog Not Even Wrong, Peter Woit has finally yielded to the temptation to make a quite interesting analogy between the current status of string theory and the Iraq war. Two failures, two situations difficult to disentangle from, two hopes that the situation will change by the end of 2008, when a change of leadership in the US management and the first data from LHC will possibly change the panorama.

I doubt that these hopes have any chance of becoming reality… Anyway, check out the comments section of the latest post by Peter at http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=501#comments .



1. Tony Smith - December 22, 2006

With respect to “… String theory and the Iraq war: a surprising parallel … two hopes that the situation will change by the end of 2008, when a change of leadership in the US management and the first data from LHC will possibly change the panorama. …”,
Tommaso said that he “… doubt[s] that these hopes have any chance of becoming reality …”.

It seems to me that a difference is:
2008 elections allow the public a chance to directly change leadership of the USA military;
the USA public has no direct say in the leadership of the USA theoretical high energy physics community.

On the other hand, a similarity is:
USA military action in Iraq and the mideast region might be regarded as an experiment whose outcome is determined by winning or losing control of oil (and destruction or not of Iranian nuclear facilities);
the LHC might be regarded as an experiment that will either see or not see a Higgs and/or conventional superstring-type supersymmetry.

The USA military experiment has some scary aspects, since it is possible for the USA military to greatly escalate by attacking Damascus to remove the current Syrian government, and by invading and occupying the oil fields of southwestern Iran, and by destroying Iranian nuclear facilities,
such actions would run a risk of USA forces suffering major casualties by counterattack from Iran with weapons furnished by Russia and China, and then further escalation, possibly to an unprecedented level.
It is an interesting question as to what extent the USA will undertake military adventure to try to preserve economic hegemony based on unstable foundation pillars, one of which is the ability (only now being challenged) of the USA to dictate that mideast oil be priced in dollars.

The LHC experiment is, in contrast, what should be a happy expedition discovering more truth about how nature works,
the only thing that I see that could make it unpleasant would be if the LHC bureaucracy were to take actions that delay the (hopefully inevitable) progress toward discovering truth.

Tony Smith

2. Babe In The Universe - December 23, 2006

Difference between the US and its scientific establishment is that in the former we can count on managemenbt change in ‘008. In science, those on top will pursue and idea until their last breath. Happy holidays to you!

3. dorigo - December 23, 2006

Hi Babe, I agree… Moreover, while I can conceive the discovery of susy and cosmic strings in the near future, I cannot conceive in the same or in a longer time scale the US winning in Iraq and establishing there a democratic system.

Cheers, T.

4. dorigo - January 7, 2007

Hi Tony,

sorry for overlooking your comments during the holidays… I agree with most of what you wrote.

On a side note, I was reading Lee Smolin’s “The trouble with physics” during my vacations, and I found he did draw a similar analogy in his book.


5. Ahmed Mourad - May 28, 2007

IRFI thanks young Australian writer Solomon Marni for his valued input in Quantum theories latest understandings in the village life in Lebanon. He was born in the rural village of Aytaroun South Lebanon. He lived in Shakra South Lebanon until the age of 7 before moving to Sydney,Australia. He is currently living and studying at Shangri-la Pakistan where his development under the Nakshbandi Sufi order is helping bridge a great gap between the Shia-Sufi cousinhood.He hopes to bring this experience back to Australia where young people,especially females may may benefit in areas such as human rights.

6. mona - September 20, 2007

nobody knows anything. those who do are lying.

7. inexpensive youth watch - October 30, 2008

inexpensive youth watch…

heel availers predicted …

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